Danielle Dieffenthaller is a Trinidadian television and film producer, director, writer and a passionate advocate for a strong Caribbean film industry. She has been all these things for the last 25 years, well before the term “creative industries” was a catch-phrase. She has produced ground-breaking television series, documentaries, reality television, corporate and music videos, and lifted the standard and reach of Trinidad and Tobago productions.
Most adults in the country have had their lives touched in some way by her work, from the drama series No Boundaries, to the environmental series Ecowatch to Machel Montano’s music videos. Many positive changes wrought in local filmmaking today are due significantly to her influence. She was one of the first advocates for increased local content, which she produced, virtually single-handedly, and in an economically sustainable way.
Ms Dieffenthaller is also one of the most prolific producers/directors in the region, with her own production company, Diefferent Style Flims [sic]. She (along with her creative team) produced the longest-running television series in Trinidad and Tobago, Westwood Park (1997 to 2004) which continues in syndication in the US, UK, and worldwide and is set to start regional syndication through Flow, the cable provider. The most recent country to syndicate Westwood Park is Papua New Guinea. She then produced another dramatic series, The Reef (2007), which was well-received but ran for one season (13 episodes) for lack of funding. She has just begun production on Plain Sight, a crime drama series tackling Trinidad and Tobago’s enduring themes: crime, politics, and corruption.
In the 1990s, she was CEO of Earth TV, which, in addition to Westwood Park, produced Ecowatch, a (10-part) series tackling environmental issues before this became the hot-button issue it is today. Ms Dieffenthaller has also produced and directed popular Caribbean music videos, including “Wet Me” by the Barbadian band Krosfyah, “Big Truck” by Machel Montano & Xtatik, and “Blue” by 3Canal.
She got her start in the mid-80s as part of the cast and crew of No Boundaries, and as a reporter for the then TTT. During a short stint at the local production company, Banyan Ltd, she was half of the only local crew to record the 1990 coup.
Ms Dieffenthaller also worked in London, as a producer for Channel 4, on the iconic series The Bandung Files after graduating from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. From the 1990s she chose to live and work in the Caribbean, and has been instrumental in creating a viable industry, and producing work for regional and international audiences. This year Ms Dieffenthaller, with film industry colleagues, formed Filmmakers Collaborative of Trinidad and Tobago (FILMCO), “an organisation to represent, lobby, agitate and actively defend the most viable ecosystem for all our members”.